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Save the Date! - 31st October 2012

 So, that’s it then… Well at least I’ve sent the form off to book the room, now I have to write the thing! Good Lord. What am I on about? I’m on about the 31st October 2012.

That’s right, when everybody’s absolutely stuffed with anything to do with the Olympics and Paralympics (except for my short film of course, which will be playing for many years after ;) 31st October 2012 is when you can all come to the lovely Dorking Halls and hear the first ever read through of my new screenplay, ‘I wonder how far I can get’ – a romantic comedy about a guy who loses his leg.  

I’ve provisionally booked the room, so I actually have a date that something (in this case a feature film screenplay) MUST be completed by. Otherwise there will be 100 people (assuming it’s sold out!) who will be very disappointed come 31st October 2012.

It’s kind of scary and strange really, the idea of doing something like this when even I don’t know how I’ll be between now and then. Yet alone wondering how busy I’ll be during the Olympics / Paralympics itself – I am hoping to be involved filming lots of different projects, after all.

Anyway, as if that isn’t enough, I’ll need to find actors and prepare them for the performed reading, with hopefully one rehearsal beforehand, so it goes as well as it can on the night… and finish writing the screenplay.

Anyway, if you can all put 31st October 2012 in your diaries, that would be good, and I’ll let you know when you can get tickets as soon as I know. It’ll have nothing to do with Halloween, but hopefully that’s a plus!

 

Posted by Gary Thomas, 14 November 2011

Last modified by Gary Thomas, 14 November 2011

Full 'stream' ahead

I've been thinking I need to do a new blog post for sometime now so here it is.

I've had a very busy time preparing and then 'doing' upstream, which was a major experience for me and one that I've been more than happy to be a part of. There was so much work I wanted to do in preparation for it that (along with everything else) for two or three weeks beforehand I felt like I didn't even have time to piss (I'm writing that cos I actually thought that a few times in the run up to it!)

So things were very hectic for me and rather exhausting as for one reason or another I didn't get much sleep that whole period which only adds to issues.

However, I knew what I wanted to show and what I needed to do to get it right, and what kind of impact I wanted to make, so along with doing all the PR stuff along side it, it had to be done.

A lot of this work I actually enjoyed, and it was great to be in the local paper as a result of being part of a major festival, and also to be there with everything sorted.
So during the week I was able to network with a few people I didn't know, and some more I haven't seen in a while, and also see some great work from others, which was one of the bonus' of being at the Brighton Festival.

There's so much going on in Brighton during the festival that I'd urge everyone to go, and being part of Upstream means that I now feel confident enough to submit a proposal to the main Brighton Festival for next year. Never done that before, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. And, as a side note, The Brighton Festival in May 2012 will be the perfect showcase to premiere The Dog & The Palace, my new film.

All that preparation leads me nicely to the work I needed to do for my next event, Pitch! (great name huh?) which I've also been happy to be a part of. Pitch! is the final day of the 2 year Sync South East Development Programme, led by Jo Verrent, Sarah Pickthal, and Hannah Reynolds. The amount of work I've had to do for that, although I'm showing different things, seems far less because of the preparation already done for upstream, and I'm going to show two previews of works in progress, which I think best reflects my current working practice.

I'm looking forward to the day, networking with over 100 people, as well as seeing the 30 individual artists that have shared the development journey for the past two years. More on the impact of this in another blogpost, but the impact of both these programmes seems to be very high for me, both professionally and personally. And the effects of that is likely to continue well into the future.

Posted by Gary Thomas, 11 June 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 June 2011

Gary Thomas on what we can learn from 'everyone else'

I've been talking to a couple of people recently about ambitions. Okay, mainly my ambitions, but certainly ambitions.

You see, I want to aim quite high, so at a recent arts meeting in London (more to be revealed eventually!) I stated in a sort of unsure voice in a room full of disabled artists - “I want to be mainstream”.

And then, after a pause: “I want to be nominated for the Turner Prize.” Yep. That's what I said. And now I've written it down. Shit me. Silly isn't it?

Well, nope, not really. Definitely not silly. You see, I'm an artist and filmmaker, and albeit I didn't go to Central St. Martins or where ever most artists go to study, I've had funding from the Arts Council, I've been commissioned, I've had a short film bought by a distributor in LA.

So why shouldn't we look at our work and say 'I want to win...' whatever it is that will take your career to the next level?

But where on earth do I get these notions from?

One such influence is Chris Jones,  and his filmmaking course which I have just started taking this weekend. 

Chris set out to make a short film and said, in a rather public way: “I want to win an Oscar.” He asked people for money, got the money, and made a film that reached the final round of voting in the Oscars, just before they chose the actual nominations. They missed out on an Oscar, but the got very very close, and made a good film because of it. Which got people's attention. And although Chris is a 'mainstream' filmmaker (I'm assuming that) there's a lot we can learn from everyone who put themselves out there.

They documented the process & they've now put it online with interviews, clips, and everything you need to look at your filmmaking journey.

I'm on section 3 of the course at the moment, and already there's been some valuable insights into where I am, and what to do next. Some of which has reconfirmed what I already know, others have been first time insights. And when I get to the next stage of the course, there will be more. If the film-making journey is something you'd like to learn more about, I'd definitely recommend taking the course yourself.

In a short while, I'm going to be blatantly asking people for money. I need to think about how I do this seriously, how can I do it with the right support from people etc, and how I can do it legally too. I want to make a major work set a couple of days after the 2012 London Olympics.

It's not something I can do on a low budget, so will be needing all the support from people and companies that I can convince. Although it's a 'short split screen film' it'll be a major work... So who's with me?

Posted by Gary Thomas, 13 February 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 13 February 2011

IT GETS BETTER... EVENTUALLY

Originally written on 5th October 2010.

I'm in a hotel in Buckingham as I write this and there is very little 3G signal. A couple of days ago I felt like shit. Truly awful, and I think I'm experiencing for the first time in my life (having had severe depression since I was 14) the 'black dog' that so many have spoken of.

All entirely ironic, considering I am thinking about a piece of film for the 'It Gets Better Campaign.' I'm thinking about it having not seen many of the videos. I'm not sure I would have the guts or whatever to look into a camera and talk about my experiences, although this is definitely something I would like to be okay with. But for now, or until I can use a couple of actors for a day and tell a story to a Melissa Etheridge song, here is what I have to say on the subject.

I was born with a flat nose and a cleft pallet. I couldn't talk properly until I was 9. I've spent the early part of my life from the age of 5 up until 24 in and out of hospital having operations. I had people making fun of me since I can remember until I was 17.

I've had depression since I was 14. I spent most of the last two years of my high school bunking off, wondering around a park, sometimes crying, nearly always listening to music, wondering why the hell I was born. Wondering what the hell I am going to do, and wondering when it's all going to end. And can I make it end? I couldn't see a future. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I thought I'd be dead by the time I'm 30.

There is no reason on Earth why I should be where I am now. In May this year I was filmed at the BFI talking about film development for the Uscreen website. A couple of months ago I was directing my first online comedy drama.

This time last year I was in LA pitching a wedding comedy feature script. The year before that I was paid to go to the Liverpool Disability Arts Festival DADAFest. The same year I went to Cannes Film Festival for the first time and sold my short film Early One Summer to a Hollywood Distributor.

I use film as a way of communication, as a way to express what I'm interested in, my ideas, my thoughts about the world. I use actors to tell stories with words that I've written. I use the written word to explore how I feel, and to explore different characters and scenarios that interest me. Last year in LA was one of the high points of my life. So was going to Liverpool in 2008. So was receiving my Arts Council funding in 2006, and so was receiving my first commission from DADA-South in 2003. All of this revolved around me making work that I'm passionate about. No matter how its received.

Getting excited about my feature script keeps me excited, keeps me thinking about those high points, and how I can achieve more of them, and how I can make opportunities happen. I pretty much do that with everything because I've just never been the sort of person to say 'make this, you keep the profits, I'll just write it...' or (more to the point) I thought I'd have to make stuff myself, because no one would take a chance on me because of the limited experience I've had.

A lot of that's now changed, and its a different game. Life is about taking opportunities, not thinking (so much) about the dark times, but carrying on through them, by any means necessary. Even if that means screaming for help from people you know, or from people you don't. I don't have a problem with saying 'please do this for me' now, and likewise I don't have a problem with going after what's important until I have it.

It gets better if you go after what you believe in. It gets better if you find something you're passionate about and put your efforts in that. It gets better as you get older, and for the most part, even the difficult times become slightly easier to get through.

Posted by Gary Thomas, 5 December 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 December 2010

Gary Thomas on frustration, risk & money.

I am an intellectual. No, I'm not just saying that to show off or anything, I did an online quiz at www.oprah.com and it told me so. It also said my need for helping others was my lowest score, (no surprise there) and creativity was up there in the highest marks (12 points) but my thirst for knowledge was paramount (14 points).

I wonder if this is why I'm feeling frustrated at the moment, which I really am right now. I would like to use this frustration to take risks that would mean I can get on with the work that I so want to do, but this all requires money, and there's the sticking point. So what to do? So many things revolve around money, but it takes other people to also make decisions (and I'm not talking about mental health or any systems here) so, should that be a reason why I can't get on and do stuff?

I can't progress with the choices I have until I have the money to do so. Although, that's not strictly true, I can write stuff, I can write an application, I can rewrite my feature screenplay. I can do quite a bit of writing really, though anything else pretty much relies on me having funding.

A friend put a post on Facebook I noticed which said, without Capitalism there wouldn't be any mental health problems. I thought this was kind of interesting, and actually hard for me to argue against.

Although, I'm sure if I lived somewhere without the 9-5 working hours and pressure on jobs etc. mental health 'issues' would still be around. Probably arising from boredom and frustration...

Which brings me back to where I am now. And out of that, I can only hope I'll grow, and change. But its a slow process, unless anyone has a spare five grand they want to donate, in which case I'll possibly be less frustrated...

Posted by Gary Thomas, 20 August 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 August 2010